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Working Assets: Hypocrites?

Many of you have heard of Working Assets. They are the company that takes a portion of their profits and donates it to worthy causes. Or so I thought. Their latest email denounced Verizon, SBC, BellSouth and Qwest for being supporters of the radical right.

Here's the email:

Subject: Your phone company's right wing agenda
Date: November 17, 2005 7:37:09 AM PST

Did you know you're supporting the radical right?

You are if you're a customer of Verizon, SBC, BellSouth or Qwest.

That's because those companies raise money for political action
committees pushing the radical-right agenda. PACs they back include
Americans for a Republican Majority, Every Republican Is Crucial, and
Pioneer PAC, "dedicated to strengthening the Republican majority in

You may be stuck with these companies for local phone service, but for
your long distance calls, you have a choice.

If you'd rather support organizations you believe in - groups like
the ACLU, Global Fund for Children and the Natural Resources Defense
Council - then now is the time to join Working Assets Long Distance.

Working Assets donates no money to politicians of any party. Instead,
we put a portion of our revenue to work for a cause we can all get
behind: a better world.

In fact, since 1985, Working Assets has generated more than $47
million for worthy nonprofits - at no extra cost to our customers.

SNIP! original clipped for brevity SNIP!

What I wanted to know is: how come the credit cards that they issue are handled by MBNA, one of the largest campaign contributors for the George W. Bush's reelection campaign? I sent them the following letter:

Subject: General comments or questions about the Working Assets Credit Card
Date: June 8, 2005 11:57:00 PM PDT

Comments: I'm writing to you because I read something today that made me
question the motives of working assets. I thought you folks
stood for the people, at least in part. Obviously, you're a
corporation and your job is to make money. You tout ourselves
as a company that contributes money to organizations that
support the people. Yet, the credit card company that you folks
put your name on (MBNA) was one of the largest campaign
contributors to George W. Bush's 2 campaign bids for the White
House. As far as your activist e-mail's to me state, GWB is no
friend of Working Assets. I'm deeply concerned about the
integrity of Working Assets.

According to Bill Maher in his address to the Take Back America
conference on Monday Jun 3, 2005.
"So it is that huge financial institutions like MBNA - the credit
card giant that is the biggest contributor to the President's two
campaigns for the White House - prevail in getting Congress and
George W. Bush to curtail personal bankruptcies, making it
harder for those families in Milwaukee to get a fresh start and a
second chance."

What is your reponse to this? Why are you guys putting your
name on the MBNA funded credit card? I'm ready to pay off my
MBNA credit card and cancel it. Give me a reason not to... and
not to run my mouth off on every blog I can about your apparent
utter hypocrisy.

Yours in fear and loathing,

Ian Hopper

Here is how they replied:

Dear Mr. Hopper:

Thank you for your comments about the Working Assets Credit Card. We appreciate the opportunity to respond to your concerns regarding our new relationship with MBNA America.

Since Working Assets is not a financial institution, we require the assistance of a bank to issue our credit card. Due to the size of our customer base, only large banks are able to handle our credit card program. Thus when our prior issuer, Fleet Bank, put our credit card portfolio up for sale, and MBNA emerged as the only bidder, we accepted an arrangement with MBNA as a way to maintain our ability to offer the credit card product.

All of us at Working Assets are doing our best to make social change happen while remaining a viable business. We believe that the tens of millions of dollars channeled to progressive non-profits through our credit card and long distance programs more than offset the inevitable compromises required to operate our business.


Customer Relations Representative
Working Assets

Now, I can't fault Debbie for the form letter e-mail reply. I'm just not happy about what it says. I'm just not comfortable with this level of hypocrisy. I will not be joining Working Assets until they rid themselves of MBNA. They claim that the "tens of millions of dollars channeled to progressive non-profits through their credit card AND long distance programs (note that they included the long distance, which I don't have an issue with) more than offset the inevitable compromises required to operate our business". They fail to give me hard numbers or concrete evidence. I believe that most of the money channeled to progressive non-profits comes from the credit card program, not the long distance. How much MORE of the profits went to MBNA? How much "offset" was really made here? No, I think they're hypocrites and if they really want to walk the walk, they'll dump MBNA.

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